Meanwhile “The Exiles âis already optional for the film. The comprehensive drama takes place in the 1840s and follows three women – two English convicts and an orphaned Aboriginal girl – in the early days of English colonization of Australia.
Wednesday’s event is hosted by more than 40 indie bookstores across the United States, including East Sandwich’s Titcombs bookstore and Wellesley books. Each company will handle the event in its own way, said Kline, winner of the New England Prize for Fiction and Maine Literary Award. At Titcomb, for example, tickets are only $ 5 or are free with the purchase of The Exiles.
We emailed Kline – who splits her time between New York City and Southwest Harbor, Maine – to ask about Exiles, her TV series, and how the event came together.
F. This event looks epic. How did you align it and how will it work?
A. Instead of a dozen virtual events spread over weeks, I’m doing a big one: a one-hour variety show that is co-sponsored by more than 40 independent bookstores across the country. The funny and brilliant John Searles will host and I will speak to fellow writers about various aspects of “The Exiles” and the life of a writer. On the way we show a short video about the story behind the book. We want the lesson to feel spontaneous and energetic.
F. What inspired your idea for âThe Exilesâ?
A. A few years ago I read an article about British convicts and children being shipped to Australia. But several strands of my own life story have sparked this interest. In my twenties, I read Robert Hughes’ story of British colonization in Australia, âThe Fatal Shore,â which inspired me to apply for a six-week Rotary Foundation grant in southeast Australia. A few years later, my mother – a professor of women’s studies at the University of Maine – and I wrote a book, “The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk about Living Feminism”, interview with 60 women. Over the years I have taught memoirs and art in women’s prisons. These experiences shaped my interest in Australia, the power of women to tell their stories, and the criminal justice system – all of which are fundamental to The Exiles.
F. I think it’s great that you’re telling the story of Mathinna, an Aboriginal girl.
A. When I visited Tasmania and learned about the real Mathinna, I decided to include her story. I thought it irresponsible not to talk about what the British had done to the Aborigines who had lived on the island then called Van Diemen’s Land for thousands of years. Mathinna was the orphaned daughter of an Aboriginal chief. In 1840, she was picked up on a whim by Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane. They wanted to see if they could “turn her into a lady”. They left when they returned to London.
F. The book became optional for television even before it was released.
A. I was lucky enough that the manuscript got noticed Bruna Papandrea, an Australian film and television producer and founder of the production company Made Up Stories. She produced “Wild”, “Gone, Girl”, “Big Little Lies”, among other. Her team has an explicit mission to hire women, adapt novels written by women, and create stories with complex female characters.
F. You’re involved in the TV show, which doesn’t always happen with writers. Can you tell us something else?
A. I am delighted to be working closely with the team on developing an eight-part series. You hired an experienced writer to design the pilot and a detailed outline; it is almost done. They have close ties with all of the major streaming companies and I think The Exiles will find a home in the next few months.
F. Tell us about your Maine connections. Does New England inspire your writing?
A. My parents, who were born in the South, made a long detour to England, where I was born, before settling in Bangor in 1970. My father was a history professor at the University of Maine for 30 years. After all, my mother taught there too. My three sisters and I attended public schools in Bangor. Eventually we all bought houses within two miles of a small village on Mount Desert Island where our parents were retired. Six of my eight novels are set, at least in part, in Boston and Maine. I proudly identify as a New England writer.
A virtual night with Christina Baker Kline
July 7th 7pm More information at christinabakerkline.com